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Mix Master


Photography by Shawn Fenn

When Manny Hinojosa pours you a drink, you can see the love. Walnut Creek Yacht Club’s head mixologist makes his own syrups, juices, and garnishes, and pours as if each drop were liquid gold. It’s no wonder his drink, the Cielo Rosso, took top honors at Shake It Up: the Battle of the Mixologists competition in Las Vegas, one of the largest bartending contests in the world.

Hinojosa’s winning cocktail is a refreshing mix of citrus vodka, Campari, and ruby grapefruit juice. It’s a little bitter, a little sweet, and, well, manly. “It’s a well-balanced cocktail,” Hinojosa says. “It’s like having a glass of wine.”

Beating the bartending world’s top guns left Hinojosa in shock. When it was announced he had won, the media surrounded him: Local news, industry magazines, and even the Food Network all wanted a quote. “I was put up in the nicest suite in Caesars Palace,” Hinojosa says. “Afterward, I remember sitting in my room by myself, thinking, ‘Wow, did that really just happen?’ ”

Hinojosa’s prize included $5,000 and a judge’s position at next year’s competition in his hometown of Mexico City. Next up for the talented bartender is the Tales of the Cocktail festival in July—Hinojosa is one of just five bartenders invited to the New Orleans competition. Hinojosa has also been hired by a national restaurant company to create new cocktails for chains like Il Fornaio and Black Angus. Meanwhile, he continues to shake things up five nights a week at the Walnut Creek Yacht Club.

Cielo Rosso

2 ounces Skyy citrus-infused vodka
3⁄4 ounce Campari
2 ounces fresh ruby grapefruit juice
1 ounce lemon juice
3⁄4 ounce simple syrup
Lemon twist
Fresh basil

Shake ingredients with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist and a fresh basil leaf.

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